Nissan: Redefining our interactions with cars
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  • Nissan: Redefining our interactions with cars
  • 11 August 2021
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    Nissan: Redefining our interactions with cars

    When developing the Ariya, it's designers and engineers didn't just consider the ergonomics of the of the dashboard, they wanted to create a new look and feel for controls that we, as drivers, often take for granted.
In order to create a space that would allow drivers to more appreciate their controls, the designers had to completely rethink the cabin completely, including the space, touch and positioning. The interior was created in order to be open and spacious, which offers a sense of calm and serenity.

Included within this new design is a dashboard, free of traditional buttons. Upon started the Ariya, the wood-grained trim bisecting the dashboard comes to life, by illuminating a set of environmental controls that reside just beneath the dashboard's surface. These buttons utilize a new generation of haptic feedback controls and open a world of possibilities between function and design.
ariya cabin
The hapic feedback buttons within the Ariya react to touch, much like the way you interact with your smartphone, as it communicates through fingertip vibrations. The design team decided to integret haptic feedback buttons into the Ariya due to the underlying design concept of 'Timeless Japanese Futurism', which takes a distinctive Japanese approach to design, through conveying a simple, yet powerful impression.

Senior Designer Hideki Tago explains: “We created a clean space by blending the haptic controls with the grain of the interior’s wood grain finish. We did this in a way that didn’t affect the performance of the controls, allowing us to achieve both functionality and an attractive appearance.”

“By applying a wood grain pattern to the plastic panels with a hydro-printing process, we gave them a very realistic wood-like feeling. At the same time, this allowed transparent icons to come to life when illuminated.”

There are two specific groupings of haptic feedback buttons within the Ariya, which can be found on the main dashboard, and on the adjustable centre armrest. The aim wasn't just to integrate the technology into the cabin to wow any passengers, but to give it a natural and responsive feel for a variety of different drivers.

After the design team conducted extensive testing, they decided to settle on electrostatic buttons which are not just bigger than your average haptic feedback buttons, but also more broadly spaced. This gives a realistic and intuitive feelings for users, but also generates a kind of air pressure “kick”, which gives the traditional click sensation of a mechanical button, without any traditional buttons being involved.

The design team then moved on to developing the vibration and SOUNDS! Yes, you read that right! The design team integrated sound as a feature for the haptic feedback buttons. 

 “Vibration and sound are inseparable,” explains Tomotaka Igarashi, the engineer in charge of the Ariya’s interior HMI development. “It may seem obvious, but this challenged our team to develop a unique sound that would match the expectations of the driver while also designing it to be as pleasant as possible.”

In order to ensure that the haptic controls within the Ariya were thoroughly developed, they had to be tested in every possible scenario to ensure they would be suitable for a wide range of users. This meant tests involving individuals with different sized fingers, and different lengths were conducted. Gloved hands were also tested within this stage. 

This is such a singular example of how the design and function of the Ariya have been woven into the development of the All-electric crossover from the outset in order to deliver a unique driving experience and level of interaction to it's users.

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